Pediatric Septic Shock

This case is written by Dr. Kyla Caners. She is a staff emergency physician in Hamilton, Ontario and the Simulation Director of McMaster University’s FRCP-EM program. She is also one of the Editors-in-Chief here at EmSimCases.

Why it Matters

Children with true septic shock are, thankfully, a rare presentation in the ED. However, recognition of early shock is an essential skill. This case highlights several important features of managing the critically ill child, including:

  • The need for early vascular access (whether that be intravenous or intraosseous, it must be obtained expediently)
  • The importance of monitoring for and treating resultant hypoglycemia
  • The need for early antibiotics

Clinical Vignette

A 4-year-old girl presents to your pediatric ED. Her mother states she is “not herself” and seems “lethargic.” She’s had a fever and a cough for the last three days. Today she just seems different. She was brought straight into a resus room and the charge nurse came to find you to tell you the child looks unwell.

Case Summary

A 4 year-old girl is brought to the ED because she is “not herself.” She has had 3 days of fever and cough and is previously healthy. She looks toxic on arrival with delayed capillary refill, a glazed stare, tachypnea and tachycardia. The team will be unable to obtain IV access and will need to insert an IO. Once they have access, they will need to resuscitate by pushing fluids. If they do not, the patient’s BP will drop. If a cap sugar is not checked, the patient will seize. The patient will remain listless after fluid resuscitation and will require intubation.

Download the case here: Pediatric Septic Shock

ECG for the case found here:

sinus-tachycardia

(ECG source: http://lifeinthefastlane.com/ecg-library/sinus-tachycardia/)

CXR for the case found here:

pediatric-pneumonia

(CXR source: http://radiopaedia.org/articles/round-pneumonia-1)

Adrenal Crisis

This case is written by Dr. Kyla Caners. She is a staff emergency physician in Hamilton, Ontario and the Simulation Director of McMaster University’s FRCP-EM program. She is also one of the Editors-in-Chief here at EmSimCases.

Why it Matters

While adrenal crisis is a relatively rare presentation, shock is not. This case highlights several important points, including:

  • The importance of having an approach to fluid non-responsive shock
  • How difficult it can be to shift cognitive frames and resist diagnostic anchoring
  • The electrolyte abnormalities associated with adrenal crisis (hyponatremia, hyperkalemia, and hypoglycemia)
  • The need to treat an adrenal crisis with corticosteroids

Clinical Vignette

A 46-year-old female presents to the ED complaining of fatigue, anorexia, and weight loss over the last two weeks. She had the “stomach flu” a couple weeks ago and thought she was getting over it. But now she feels very weak and seems to be vomiting again. Her blood pressure is 80/40, so she was triaged straight to the resuscitation bay.

Case Summary

A 46-year-old female presents to the ED complaining of fatigue, anorexia, and weight loss over the last two weeks. She had the “stomach flu” a couple weeks ago and thought she was getting over it. But now she feels very weak and seems to be vomiting again. On presentation, the patient will have mild hypothermia, hypoglycemia, and hypotension. The team will have to initiate fluid resuscitation and an initial workup. The patient’s blood pressure won’t respond to 4 L of IV fluids, forcing the residents to work through the differential diagnosis of shock. Eventually, they will receive critical VBG results that indicate a mild metabolic acidosis, hyperkalemia, and hyponatremia. The team will need to treat the hyperkalemia and initiate hydrocortisone therapy.

Download the case here: Adrenal Crisis Case

ECG for the case found here:

peaked-t-waves

(ECG source: http://lifeinthefastlane.com/ecg-library/basics/hyperkalaemia/)

CXR for the case found here:

normal female CXR radiopedia

(CXR source: https://radiopaedia.org/cases/normal-chest-radiograph-female-1)

Pericardial U/S for the case found here:

(U/S courtesy of the McMaster PoCUS Subspecialty Training Program)

FAST image for the case found here:

no FF

(U/S courtesy of the McMaster PoCUS Subspecialty Training Program)

Coarctation of the Aorta

This case is written by Drs. Quang Ngo and Donika Orlich. Dr. Ngo is an attending emergency physician at McMaster Children’s Hospital and also serves as the Associate Program Director for the Department of Pediatrics. He is also a member of the advisory board here at EMSimCases. Dr. Orlich is a PGY5 Emergency Medicine resident at McMaster University who also completed a fellowship in Simulation and Medical Education last year.

Why it Matters

Having an approach to the toxic neonate is essential. More importantly, emergency physicians must be able to recognize subtle historical clues and physical exam features that point toward congenital heart disease in order to begin critical treatment rapidly. This case highlights the following:

  • The presentation of neonates with congenital heart disease including features like difficulty feeding, CHF, and tachypnea without increased work of breathing
  • The clinical features that may be present in a coarctation of the aorta, one specific type of congenital heart disease, and the resultant need to include four-limb BP’s as part of the work-up of toxic-appearing neonates
  • The importance of beginning a prostaglandin infusion in patients with suspected ductal-dependent congenital heart disease
  • One of the most common side effects of a prostaglandin infusion – apnea

Clinical Vignette

Your triage nurse comes to tell you about an infant she just put in the resuscitation room who she feels looks quite unwell. He is a 2 week old neonate brought to the ED by his mother. Mom was worried because he hasn’t been feeding very well and seems to just get sleepy when feeding. Now he just vomited his last feed and seems really lethargic. She thinks he just “doesn’t look the right colour”.

Case Summary

A 2-week-old neonate presents in shock requiring the learner to implement an initial broad work-up. The patient will also be hypoglycemic, and will seize if this is not promptly recognized. Physical exam and CXR findings will suggest coarctation of the aorta as the likely cause, and the learner should recognize the need for gentle fluid boluses and a prostaglandin infusion. Unless learners anticipate appropriately and intubate the patient prior to beginning the prostaglandins, the infant will become apneic after starting the infusion and require intubation.

Download the case here: Coarctation of the Aorta Case

ECG for the case found here:

coarc-ecg

(ECG source: http://www.omjournal.org/IssueText.aspx?issId=380)

Initial CXR for the case found here:

chf-neonate

(CXR source: http://www.adhb.govt.nz/newborn/TeachingResources/Radiology/CXR/HLHS/CXR-HLHS-congested.jpg)

Post-intubation CXR for the case found here:

chf-neonate-post-intubation

(CXR source: http://www.adhb.govt.nz/newborn/TeachingResources/Radiology/CXR/OtherCHF/NonstructuralCHF.jpg)

For more information on the management of Congenital Heart Disease Emergencies, see the excellent review by Emergency Medicine Cases found here.

Multi-trauma case: burn and head injury

This case is written by Dr. Donika Orlich. She is a PGY5 Emergency Medicine resident at McMaster University who also completed a fellowship in Simulation and Medical Education last year.

Why it Matters

Too often in the Emergency Department, we are faced with the challenge of simultaneously managing two patients who each require immediate care. This case does an excellent job of highlighting the following issues that often arise as a result:

  • The importance of delegating any tasks that may be delegated
  • The need to clarify who is taking ownership of a patient’s management when there is help available from others (such as another ED MD or a trauma team leader)
  • How essential it is to call for help early

In addition, this case also features some key medical content, including:

  • The recognition and treatment of cyanide toxicity in the context of a house fire
  • The preparation and management of a potentially difficult airway
  • The need to perform an escharotomy in a patient with circumferential chest burns and high ventilation pressures
  • The importance of checking a blood glucose on all patients with an altered level of consciousness

Clinical Vignette

Patient A: “You are working in a tertiary care ED. A 33 year old male has just been brought in by EMS after being dragged out of a house fire. He has been unresponsive with EMS and has significant burns to his chest, arm, and leg. The etiology of the fire is unclear, but the home was severely damaged.”

Midway through the case, Patient B will arrive.

Patient B (To be stated by EMS in handover): “We have a 55 year old male here who was repeatedly kicked during an altercation outside a bar. His GCS was 15 on arrival, but it just decreased to 13 in the ambulance bay, and he has become combative. We put him in C-spine collar at the scene. He has lots of bruising to face and head, but no other obvious injuries. When he was more cooperative, the patient denied other medical history or allergies initially.”

Case Summary

The case will begin with the arrival of patient from a house fire who has 30%TBSA burns. The team will be expected to recognize the need for intubation and fluid resuscitation. After successful intubation, a second patient will arrive from an altercation outside a bar. He appears to have a blunt traumatic head injury after being repeatedly kicked. The team is expected to recognize hypoglycemia in the context of a minor head injury and provide immediate glucose replacement. During the management of the head injured patient, the burn patient will continue to by hypotensive. The team will need to recognize the possibility of CN toxicity. The patient will also become more difficult to ventilate and will require an escharotomy.

A Note on Technical Requirements

At McMaster, we recently ran this case for our senior residents. It was a huge success! It did, however, require many resources. We used one high fidelity mannequin and one standardized patient actor. We also had two confederate nurses (one per patient). We had three staff physicians as instructors. One instructor was assigned to observing each patient’s management. The third instructor briefly played the paramedic and also coordinated between the two instructors and the sim tech to ensure the case ran smoothly. We ran the case with five residents participating. We had them pre-assigned to roles of trauma team leader, senior emerg resident, senior anesthesia resident, senior general surgery resident, and senior orthopedic resident. (This is often the make-up of our trauma team.)

Download the case here: Multi-trauma Case: Burn and Head Injury

CXR for Patient B found here:

normal-cxr-patient-b

(CXR source: http://www.pharmacology2000.com/respiratory_anesthesiology/pulmonary_assessment/pulmonary_assessment2.htm)

PXR for Patient B found here:

normal-pelvis-male

(PXR source: http://radiopaedia.org/articles/pelvis-1)

Massive Pulmonary Embolism

This case is written by Dr. Kyla Caners. She is a staff emergency physician in Hamilton, Ontario and the Simulation Director of McMaster University’s FRCP-EM program. She is also one of the Editors-in-Chief here at EmSimCases.

Why it Matters

The management of massive pulmonary embolism is one that requires rapid action and decisive decision-making, often based on less information than one would like. This case highlights several key features of the management of a massive PE, including:

  • The importance of recognizing the signs of PE and using basic bedside investigations to aid in diagnosis when a patient is too unstable for confirmatory CT
  • The need to maintain quality ACLS care when a patient arrests, regardless of arrest etiology
  • The use of thrombolytics during cardiac arrest to treat a suspected pulmonary embolism

Clinical Vignette

A 46 year old male presents to the ED complaining of shortness of breath and pleuritic chest pain. He broke his ankle a week ago and has been in a cast since. He was just discharged home after operative repair 2 days ago.

Case Summary

A 46 year old male with a cast on his left leg from a bad ankle fracture presents to the ED complaining of pleuritic chest pain and shortness of breath. The team will take a history and start workup when the patient will suddenly state he’s “not feeling well” and then arrest. The team will perform ACLS consistent with the PEA algorithm and should consider IV thrombolytics. If IV thrombolytics are administered, the patient will have ROSC.

Download the case here: Pulmonary Embolism

ECG for the case found here:

ecg-massive-pte

(ECG source: http://cdn.lifeinthefastlane.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/ECG-Massive-PTE.jpg)

Post-intubation CXR for the case found here:

Post-Intubation

Post Intubation

(CXR source: https://emcow.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/normal-intubation2.jpg)

Cardiac U/S showing right heart strain found here:

(U/S courtesy of the McMaster PoCUS Subspecialty Training Program)

Cardiac U/S showing cardiac standstill found here:

(U/S courtesy of the McMaster PoCUS Subspecialty Training Program)

Aortic Dissection

This case was written by Dr. Martin Kuuskne who is one of the editors-in-chief at EMSimCases and is an attending Emergency Medicine Physician at University Health Network in Toronto.

Why it Matters

Aortic Dissection is one of the most deadly causes of chest pain for the emergency physician. Its presentation, methods of diagnosis, management and complications are varied and demand critical thinking, clear communication and teamwork. This case highlights the following points:

  1. The key elements of the history, physical exam and initial investigations that support the diagnosis of aortic dissection.
  2. The importance of managing hypertension in the setting of aortic dissection, including specific blood pressure and heart rate targets.
  3. The need to set priorities dynamically as a patient becomes unstable and requires ACLS care.

Clinical Vignette 

You are working the day shift at a tertiary-care hospital. A 66-year-old female is being wheeled into the resuscitation bay with a history of a syncopal episode. No family members or friends are present with the patient.

Case Summary

A 66-year-old female with a history of smoking, HTN and T2DM presents with syncope while walking her dog. She complains of retrosternal chest pain radiating to her jaw. She will become increasingly bradycardic and hypotensive, requiring the team to mobilize resources in order to facilitate diagnosis and management of an aortic dissection.

Download the case here: Aortic Dissection

First EKG for the case: Sinus tachycardia

(EKG Source: http://i0.wp.com/lifeinthefastlane.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/sinus-tachycardia.jpg)

Second EKG for the case:

mobitz-1-stemi

(EKG Source: http://hqmeded-ecg.blogspot.ca/2012_09_01_archive.html)

CXR for the case:

(CXR Source: https://radiopaedia.org/articles/aortic-dissection)

Postpartum Hemorrhage and NRP

This case is written by Dr. Donika Orlich. She is a PGY5 Emergency Medicine resident at McMaster University who also completed a fellowship in Simulation and Medical Education last year.

Why it Matters

Deliveries in the Emergency Department are, by definition, high risk deliveries. However, they are relatively rare. This case highlights some of the “worst case scenarios” that one may face after a delivery in the ED. In particular, it showcases:

  • The key first steps required for NRP in the 60 seconds after delivery
  • The later stages of NRP, including CPR and intubation
  • The approach to a patient with postpartum hemorrhage, including transfusion, fundal massage, administration of uterotonics, and a search for retained products

Clinical Vignette

EMS Patch: “We have a 26 year-old female who is 38 weeks pregnant and appears to be in active labor. She is complaining of severe abdominal pain and has had some vaginal bleeding. We don’t see any crowing yet, but the patient feels the baby’s head is about to come out. Patient’s Vitals as follows: HR 120, BP 140/85, RR 20, O2 100% on room air. ETA 2 minutes.”

Case Summary

The team receives advanced notification from EMS about a woman who is imminently delivering. Upon arrival, delivery will be uncomplicated, but the neonate will appear lifeless. Neonatal resuscitation should be initiated. Eight minutes into the neonatal resuscitation, the team leader will be notified that the mother continues to hemorrhage and is becoming hypotensive. They must begin concurrent workup and management of the mother while continuing to run the neonatal resuscitation. Second & third line medical therapies for uterine atony will be needed, and also manual uterine exploration and packing. Early consultation should be made to NICU, ICU, OB, and Interventional Radiology.

Download the case here: PPH and NRP Combined Case

Toxic Alcohol Ingestion

This case is written by Dr. Kyla Caners. She is a staff emergency physician in Hamilton, Ontario and the Simulation Director of McMaster University’s FRCP-EM program. She is also one of the Editors-in-Chief here at EmSimCases.

Why it Matters

While toxic alcohol ingestions requiring treatment are relatively rare, patients presenting with a profoundly altered mental status are not. This case highlights key features of each, including:

  • The need for a broad differential in patients with an altered mental status (especially when there is absolutely no relevant history available!)
  • The importance of identifying and working through causes of an anion gap metabolic acidosis
  • The empiric and definitive treatments of a toxic alcohol overdose

Clinical Vignette

EMS has just brought you to a patient with a GCS of 3. He was found in the back alley behind a drug store with no identifying information. He is not known to EMS or to your department. He appears to be in his 30s or 40s.

Case Summary

A 46 year-old male presents with a GCS of 3 after being found in the back alley behind a drug store. The team will need to work through a broad differential diagnosis and recognize the need to intubate the patient. If they try naloxone, it will have no effect. After intubation, the team will receive critical VBG results showing a profound metabolic acidosis with a significant anion gap. The goal is to trigger the team to work through the possible causes of an elevated anion gap, including toxic alcohols.

Download the case here: Toxic Alcohol Case

ECG for the case found here:

Sinus tachycardia

(ECG source: http://i0.wp.com/lifeinthefastlane.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/sinus-tachycardia.jpg)

Post-intubation CXR for the case found here:

Post-Intubation

Post Intubation

(CXR source: https://emcow.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/normal-intubation2.jpg)

Thyroid Storm

This case is written by Dr. Cheryl ffrench, a staff Emergency Physician at the Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg. She is the Associate Program Director and the Director of Simulation for the University of Manitoba’s FRCP-EM residency program; she is also on the Advisory Board of emsimcases.com.

Why it Matters

Thyrotoxicosis is a rare presentation to the ED that can masquerade as many other conditions. This case nicely reviews the following:

  • The importance of maintaining a broad differential diagnosis in any patient who presents with an altered level of consciousness and a fever
  • The nuances associated with managing atrial fibrillation in the context of thyrotoxicosis
  • The multiple medications required in order to treat thyroid storm

Clinical Vignette

You are working the evening shift at a tertiary care hospital. A 31-year-old female two weeks postpartum is brought in by EMS accompanied by her husband. He is concerned because she is delirious and somewhat difficult to rouse.

Case Summary

A 31 year-old-female presents by EMS with altered LOC and fever due to thyroid storm precipitated by recent parturition. The patient is tachycardic and hypoxic on arrival. Her level of consciousness will continue to deteriorate despite IV fluids and antibiotics and will require intubation. The husband will be at the bedside, and the team will need to discuss the need for intubation with him. After intubation, lab results will come back indicating possible thyrotoxicosis. The patient’s rhythm will change to atrial fibrillation at this time. The team will be expected to manage the thyroid storm in consultation with Endocrinology and ICU.

Download the case here: Thyroid Storm Case

Sinus tachycardia ECG for the case found here:

Sinus tachycardia

(ECG source: http://lifeinthefastlane.com/ecg-library/hyperthyroidism/)

Atrial fibrillation ECG for the case found here:

rapid-a-fib

(ECG source: http://lifeinthefastlane.com/ecg-library/atrial-fibrillation/)

CHF CXR for the case found here:

severe-chf

(CXR source: http://www.radiologyassistant.nl/en/p4c132f36513d4/chest-x-ray-heart-failure.html)